It’s Rosh Chodesh morning and I’m sitting at home davening shachris. I’m davening at home because I don’t have the strength to go to shul and face all my triggers there. I also don’t have the strength to face everyone and pretend to be happy. I’m not happy and I don’t have the strength to pretend to be.
I’m up to the part of saying Hallel and I don’t feel like saying it. I’m not in the mood of rejoicing and saying it. Rosh Chodesh is about renewal. It marks a new month. When there are two days of Rosh Chodesh we celebrate the end of the previous month and the beginning of the new month. We mark the end of an old era and bring in a new era.
However, to me it’s all the same. To me, my life feels as though it’s one long month. Starting from my childhood years with all the abuse and trauma. I’m still living in the same month as back then. No renewal for me. I can’t rejoice and bring in a new month if I’m still living in my old month.
I know that I sound bitter but Dear Father, I am bitter. I am sad. I am upset. I am frustrated. I look around at everyone else my age and see adults. I see that they moved past their childhood years. They moved past their teenage years and are now grown up adults. I, am however, stuck in my childhood and teenage years. I’m stuck in all my years of abuse and neglect of all sorts.
Am I trying to move past it? Yes.
Am I in therapy? Yes.
Am I on meds? Yes.
Am I in support groups? Yes.
Am I married with children? Yes.
Did I build up my own very successful business? Yes.
However, I don’t feel successful. I don’t feel like an adult. I don’t feel like I moved past my childhood years. I feel stuck in them. But Dear God, is it my fault? Did I choose this life? Did I choose to go through many, many years of emotional, sexual and religious abuse? Did I choose the life of Triggers and flashbacks? Did I choose the life of being an adult struggling all day every day from the consequences off child and teenage abuse?
So I don’t want to say Hallel. I don’t feel like rejoicing over a new period of time. Instead I’m writing this letter to you. I know you read all my letters because I’ve seen responses to my cries and pain in them. Please don’t judge me for not saying Hallel. For davening at home. Like I said, I didn’t choose this and I’m fighting breathlessly to cope with my everyday struggles.
To the world, waking up in the morning is just something that happens on it’s own. Going to work is a natural thing that you do. They all wake up. Go to shul. Go to work. Go to weddings. Go to school dinners and parlor meetings. Everything comes so easy so they have room to devote themselves to your mitzvos.
However, to me and all other abuse victims, I need all my strength to wake up and live a semi functional life. At the end of the day, I’m depleted of all strength. I don’t have any extra room left to fight my religious abuse and be more into learning and davening.
So, I am faced with a choice. Either give up and throw it all away or to keep fighting. There’s a mitvah called “Uvacharta B’chaim”, Choose life. That commandment overrides all other commandments. We are obligated to choose life.
Choose life?? Who doesn’t want that?? Why did You feel the need to give us that Mitzvah? It’s a seemingly pointless one. You put it into the human psyche to fight for life so why the need for the Mitzvah?
Hashem, my feelings are, that the mitzvah was given to us abuse victims. It’s a mitzvah that was designed and given specially for us. Yes, choose life and wake up in the morning. Choose life and go to work. Choose life and get married and have children. Choose life and go to therapy and groups despite the huge expense emotionally and financially. Choose life and go to the gym at 11:00 at night to release the days’ triggers. Choose life and reach out for support even on Shabbos because “V’chai Bahem” overrides keeping Shabbos. Choose life and don’t say selichos in Elul because it triggers all the guilt and shame that abuse victims feel all the time.
So I ask you Dear Father, Am I not living and breathing your torah the entire day? Am I not one big mitzvah from when I wake up until I finally get to bed? Am I not devoting my entire self to your commandments? If the mitzvah of choosing life overrides all other mitzvos that would mean that it’s the biggest mitzvah and that’s the one that I’m devoting my entire self to keep.
So, I’m not saying Hallel now because I have an emotional block preventing me from saying it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to. However, now I’m saying my own personal Hallel to you. Thank you for getting me where I am today. Thank you for giving me the strength to fight my battles. Thank you helping me live a functional life. Lastly, Thank you for being my Father. I don’t always see You but I know you are there. I know you understand me and my pain. I know You are not judging me and for that I’m saying my own personal Hallel.